Former Traffic Court Judge Serving New York and New Jersey

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Former Traffic Court Judge

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Is a traffic offense really that serious?

You probably know at least one person who has violated a traffic law and gotten caught. Most people who offend park in the wrong location, speed or otherwise break laws without harming other people. In cases involving nondangerous moving violations or mechanical violations, the police generally issue tickets.

These tickets come with a fine, but usually there is no more serious penalty. Certain offenses, however, are more likely to be categorized as felonies or misdemeanors, which could put your freedom at risk.

When do traffic violations lead to misdemeanors or felony charges?

A misdemeanor or felony is most likely if you cause injury to another person or destroy property. A threat of injury or threat of destruction may also lead to a misdemeanor or felony. Here's an example: If you're speeding and cause a crash that leads to serious injuries for the other driver, then you may face a felony charge for driving recklessly. If you hadn't caused any injuries, you may only have faced a traffic infraction for speeding, which would have a penalty of a fine and potentially the loss of your license, depending on the circumstances.

If you're accused of a serious violation, it's in your best interests to reach out to someone for help. You still have a right to an attorney and defense, which you may need to protect your liberties. Even if you cause an accident, there are ways to explain your actions and take responsibility without receiving severe penalties.

For these reasons, it's a good idea to defend yourself, even if it's a minor infraction. With help, you can avoid getting points on your license or fines that impact your life.

Source: FindLaw, "Misdemeanor & Felony Traffic Offenses," accessed May 25, 2018

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